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Archive for March, 2007

Extreme road crossing

2 laden bikes

You've head of extreme dirt biking and extreme stunt biking, how about extreme road crossing? I spotted these two tricycles on the road yesterday whilst looking out the window. They were "mixing it" with the traffic on the main road through Shenzhen. They then crossed over to the wrong side of the road and road towards the on-coming traffic. They made it across the road just before the on-coming traffic reached them, continuing to ride up the bus lane the wrong way.

Just look at the size of the loads! To carry that load up any kind of hill I reckon I'd need a load of nothing more than Styrofoam and a tail wind. Certainly a case of using raw man-power to get the job done.

Sink Drain

Have you ever noticed which way the water spins when it goes down the sink? Have you also ever heard someone proclaim that the water spins the opposite way when you cross the equator and spout off some technical-sounding sentence including the word Coriolis? Having now lived in both hemispheres I thought I'd comment on the subject. 

The Coriolis effect is, for those that don't know, the effect that makes cyclones spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. It is a real phenomenon. It is caused by the earth at the equator travelling forwards fastest, the earth at Helsinki (Finland) travelling forwards at about half the speed and the earth at the north and south poles not travelling forwards at all. The difference in forwards speed causes a rotational spin.

That's all fine for cyclones but it makes no practical difference to how your bath water behaves. The strength of the effect on a basin of water would be so small that an ant doing backstroke would have more influence on the spin of the water. This has been born out in my observations. Bodies of water in the southern and northern hemispheres have freely spun both ways, although often the same way in the same sink. The repetition of spin direction has been more directly attributed to other factors, like the shape of the drain, movements in the water, the shape of the piping, build up of rubbish and a partial blockage caused by the wife's hair ) . Northern or southern hemisphere has no impact whatsoever.

So, next time you hear someone talking about the spinning water in drains due to the Coriolis effect, politely correct them. If they resist, give them this website

Just for you, Dave

To quote Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, we've been literally inundated with a letter to make a change to the blog. To celebrate my Happy Blogday in August last year I changed the website theme however the new theme didn't include previous and next post links when viewing a single post. To cure that ill, the single post view now has links to the previous and next posts. I've also taken the opportunity to freshen up the dynamic contents of the sidebar, which was never quite right, and add a Visitors page

Typical Shenzhen

Shenzhen Streets

This picture is one of my favourites from Shenzhen. Although innocuous at first, it's one of my favourites because it contains so many different elements that are all classic examples of what it means to live here. Let me explain.

  • On the centre/right there's a guy with a trolley and behind him is a guy on a 3-wheeled bicycle cart. These are two of the most common methods for ferrying stuff around the city.
  • There's a few other people on bicycles, again a common mode of transport for the locals.
  • There's a woman with an umbrella. These are a favoured fashion accessory by many women. They keep the sun off when it's hot and the rain off when it rains. It seems that any time is a good time to hoist the brolly.
  • There's a woman dressed like a westerner in black slacks and a sleeveless top. Many people here chase after Western ideals and dress in a similar way.
  • My favourite person is the guy in the black tank top on the left. What a dude! He's shaved, tattooed, dressed in black, has pointy shoes and is wearing a tank top. In any other city you'd give this guy a wide berth except … except … he's riding the cutest electric scooter you've ever seen!
  • Some of the buildings in the background are mirror-finished. They love their shiny buildings in China. They also like their tall buildings and lots of them.
  • There are at least 4 buses in the shot. Buses ferry the majority of the populous around and they're a significant portion of the total road traffic.
  • The roads are chock-a-block with cars. Cars, cars, everywhere, both imported and local. 
  • There are a multitude of signs over the roadway. In many places in Shenzhen there are sings, warnings and instructions telling people what to do. It's like being shouted at everywhere you go.
  • There is a fence dividing the two sides of the road. These are used in lots and lots of places. I can just imagine the chaos if they didn't have them, in a city where taxi drivers will drive around a bus and park themselves on the pedestrian crossing just to get the jump at the lights. 
  • There's a camera monitoring what people are up to. Cameras are a common sight in Shenzhen, however it's always unknown which ones are actually being paid attention to. Occasionally we've joked about their being cameras hidden in our air conditioning air vents. )

8 legged mobility

Octopus Card

In Hong Kong they have this marvellous public transport card called the Octopus card. It's a stored value smart card that you use when using buses, the MTR subway, the KCR rail and just about any other form of public transport you can think of, except taxis. They don't trust the taxi companies with the system apparently. Anyway, going beyond just transport there are lots of shops and vending machines that allow you to buy your meals or get a drink with the card too. Another advantage is that it enhances people-flow by allowing them to move through the turnstiles/gates with barely a pause in stride, negating the need for queue-generating fumblings in wallets and purses for change. Add Value machines are plentiful and the whole system seems very reliable. 

In Shenzhen they've copied Hong Kong's ways to some degree by using a stored value card for the Metro (subway) and some buses. Even though it's significantly cheaper to use in Shenzhen (it needs to be) the Octopus card still beats it for widespread use and general public acceptance. 

It’s not just grass

Grass sign

I didn't realise that the grass had such strong feelings on the matter!

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